How To Get Toilet Paper Out of Trees
If those teenage neighborhood kids adorned your majestic maple with TP streamers but you're not feeling the vibe, here's how to remove it.
While the ghosts and goblins that appear each fall may elicit warm childhood memories, waking up to a tree full of toilet paper is rarely a welcome sight. For the pranksters responsible, there’s something to behold about a roll of TP sailing through the air, tail flapping as the roll unravels.
Of course, there are worse things these tricksters could be up to. But for folks stuck cleaning that mess, there’s no time to waste. This guide explains how to get toilet paper out of trees.
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A Word of Caution: Don’t Wait
It’s important to get to the toilet paper right away — specifically before it rains. Liquids break down toilet paper, so if it rains first, you’re stuck trying to remove structureless blobs from tree branches. If you thought removing streamers of toilet paper was hard, just wait until you’re dealing with this wet mess.
If the toilet paper gets wet, wait for it to dry before cleaning it up. Chipping it off in big, hardened chunks is a lot easier than picking up disintegrating clumps.
Method One: Use a Long Pole and Tape
Removing it one streamer at a time might seem daunting, but it can go quickly.
Take a long pole (we like 10-foot lengths of 3/4-inch PVC pipe) and wrap the end with duct tape, sticky side out. Starting as high as possible, remove the streamers one branch at a time. Try to remove it all at once to prevent ripping it and multiplying the number of streamers. It’s hard, but you should still try.
Safety first! Be sure to stay away from power lines. If the TP reaches from the trees to the power line, let it fall on its own over time.
Method Two: Climb a Ladder
While it’s always best to stay on the ground, gaining some elevation may be necessary to reach some of those long strips of one-ply. You’ll need two helpers for this. Be sure to enlist one person to hold and stabilize the ladder, and another to hand you things and direct your efforts.
Lean the ladder carefully against the trunk of the tree, with the feet sitting securely. With one helper holding the ladder in place, climb rung by rung, maintaining at least three points of contact at all times (two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand). Trees sway and branches bounce, so be careful.
Once you’re up there, you have two options. Grab the toilet paper you can safely reach, wad it up and throw it down to the ground support person, or have that person hand you the pole. Either way, be careful not to reach too far out from the ladder, and don’t trust any branches to support you.
Method Three: Leaf Blower
Try as you might, there may be strips of toilet paper that are simply out of reach. In those cases, you can fire up a leaf blower.
The goal here is to knock the toilet paper loose with a blast of air. Be strategic with how you position the leaf blower, working from the inside of the tree outward. Ask a helper to catch any strips that might blow free before reaching the ground to prevent them from disintegrating.
Method Four: Pressure Washer
If the leaf blower fails, you can try a pressure washer. Yes, we know we said to avoid water, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Also, DO NOT attempt this method if the tree is near power lines.
Many folks think the zero-degree nozzle is the jet of choice, and cranking up the pressure will blast out the toilet paper. In reality, that much pressure will likely damage the tree’s leaves and bark, so dial it back. Relatively low pressure with a 15-degree nozzle will usually do the trick.
Aim the nozzle in the air away from the tree and squeeze the trigger to start the blast. Then carefully bring the water toward the toilet paper, watching to ensure the pressure washer isn’t destroying the tree. Keep going until the paper is gone.
You’ll likely find small bits of toilet paper for weeks to come, but it will eventually break down and disappear.
Final Note: Fire Is a Bad Idea
Some folks on the internet suggest lighting the strips of TP on fire for quick, easy removal. Don’t even think about it. I couldn’t find any videos of this method used successfully, and common sense should tell you it’s a bad idea to bring any flame near wood.